Former Commence Minister Miatta Beysolow, indicted for her alleged role in the illegal sale of the Japanese Oil Grant, has asked to be tried separately in a case where the government claimed it lost millions of United States dollars that she said she used to support economic and social developments in the country.
Beysolow was named as a defendant along with Steve Flanh Paye, former director, Division of Price Analysis and Marketing at the Ministry of Commerce (MOC); T. Nelson Williams, Jr., former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC); and Arran Wheagar, former Deputy Managing Director at LPRC, in an indictment that a Grand Jury of Monsterrado County retuned in early February.
They are expected to be tried on multiple charges, including economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation and violation of the required Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) procedure and process. The trio secured a US$2 million joint criminal appearance bond.
However, her lawyers are arguing that there is nothing in the indictment linking Beysolow to any of the co-defendants to commit the crimes that they are being tried for.
In their request for a separate trial, the lawyers quoted part of the indictment, which states that “LPRC, which was the implementing agent for the monetization of the Japanese Oil Grant donated to the government of Liberia, being charged with the responsibility to engage the services of a business entity through the process and procedures consistent with the Liberian market and ensure that the sale of the products are deposited into government coffers, knowingly, intentionally and wrongfully selected Aminata & Sons Incorporated without going through a competitive bidding process and other processes.”
Beysolow’s lawyers argued further that the indictment said, “Defendants Nelson Williams and Arran Wheagar, implementing agent persons for the Japanese Oil Grant, all of the LPRC, knowingly, intentionally and wrongfully and in total violation of the Memorandum of Understanding executed by and between the MOC and the LPRC and attested to by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 30, 2011, required the hiring of independent surveyor, but they used the services of Inter Ocean Petroleum and General Merchandise Inspection Inc. (PEGML); at which time, the PEGML was performing services for LPRC and without going through the competitive and other bidding processes and procedure required by the PPCC Act.”
According to the lawyers, the wording of the incitement shows that there is not a causal link or relationship between their client’s conduct and those of the co-defendants, adding that joining her with them would prejudice her interest.
“Beysolow’s defense and those of the other co-defendants are not the same,” they contended, “particularly because she did not at any point in time conspire with the other co-defendants.
“The indictment is vague, speculative as to the allegation made against her, and it shows no evidence linking her to the alleged acts of the co-defendants,” the document added.
Moreover, they argued that during the alleged period of August 2011 and thereabout, Beysolow was not in the country, and did not sign the said Grant.